Friday, February 24, 2012

Yoko's Dessert Sushi

Rosemary Wells makes me sit up and take notice.  (Literally.  She was a judge on a Food Network cake competition once, and I sat up and paid attention to the whole thing.)  You may know her as the creator of rabbit siblings Max and Ruby, who have tons of books and even a tv show to their name.  Or perhaps you know her McDuff series about a lovable terrier.  But no matter which of her characters you may have seen, please don't ignore this one!

Yoko is a lovely Japanese-American kitten who is really excited to start school.  Her mother has even packed her very favorite lunch... sushi! It's too bad that the other kids in class don't appreciate it.  Or her red bean ice cream.  It's SEAWEED!  It's WEIRD!  "Yuckorama!" Sure, they may not all be eating the same thing, but... who eats THAT?  Poor Yoko.  She doesn't feel happy about school anymore. 

Her teacher, Mrs. Jenkins, couldn't seem to cheer up our poor heroine.  Being a good teacher, she came up with a great idea to get a handle on the situation.  She sent home a notice announcing International Food Day; each parent was supposed to make a family recipe and bring in enough for everyone to try.  Foods from all over the world are there! Yoko's mother makes enough sushi for everyone to have some.  But will anybody try it?

I, like many of Yoko's classmates, am not a big fan of sushi.  To be honest, I don't eat any seafood at all.  But I couldn't slight Yoko and not make sushi, so I've found a way to make her favorite dish without having to... by making it out of gummy fish instead of real ones!

I used the recipe for Original Rice Krispie Treats as found on  If you're adventurous, or hungry, there are a ton of awesome variations on their theme there.  I plan on making several of them when I have the time, ingredients, and people to eat them.

Yoko's Dessert Sushi
 6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
3 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 10.oz bag of regular-size marshmallows OR 4 cups mini-marshmallows
Gummy worms
Gummy fish
Fruit Roll-Ups

1. Melt the butter or margarine in a large saucepan over low heat.  Add the marshmallows and stir constantly until everything is melted together.
2. Add the rice krispies to the marshmallow mixture and stir until evenly coated.
3. Wait until the mixture is cool enough to touch - don't burn yourself!  This is VERY IMPORTANT!
4.  There are two ways to do the next part.  You can either
          A) Put enough Krispie Treat mixture to cover all but a 1-inch stripe of a fruit roll-up, about half an inch thick. Add a few gummy worms, and roll up, using the un-covered inch of fruit roll-up to complete the outer covering of the roll.
          B) Make a cylinder of Krispie Treat around 3 or 4 gummy worms, and then cover with a fruit roll-up.
Really, the method you choose depends on your preference.  I made them both ways, and neither one was particularly easy, but neither was hair-pullingly-hard to do, either.  All in all, they looked about the same in the end, so I was happy.
5. Then, cut your log of gummies-krispies-fruit-roll-ups into slices of about an inch.  (It may be easier to do this after a brief stay in the refrigerator.)
6. Alternately, or additionally, you can make Rice Krispie sashimi by making a solid piece of the treat mixture, adding a gummy fish, and securing with a strip of fruit roll-up.  This was much simpler to do, and it still looks pretty good.  Sound confusing?  Here's a photo of the finished product:

I had also intended to add frosting wasabi, but that sadly didn't come to pass.

As a note, I feel that it's fair to mention that these were very very sweet, but they certainly were delicious. If this is too time-consuming, I have also seen people make dessert sushi by cutting snack-cakes into slices.  They also look lovely, but they don't have gummy fish.  Or a book.  So I think I'm okay.

I feel bad that I set a bad example by not eating the food that's part of the trying-different-foods lesson, but I think I'll just have to forgive myself on this one, since I have tried seafood, and I know that I dislike it.  Would it make you feel better if I tried one new food this week to make up for it?

In other news, I'm hoping to have a minimum of one blog post a week.  Please yell at me if I don't keep it up.  You can contact me at, on my Facebook fan page, or right here on the blog itself in the comments.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bake Sale Cupcakes

Bake Sale by Sara Varon is a graphic novel for children that follows Cupcake, a cupcake who owns the Sweet Tooth Bakery, plays the drums, and wears a delicious cherry on his head whenever possible.  He's best friends with an eggplant named Eggplant (who sleeps with a sock monkey - I love that), and we also meet such characters as Sugar, Avocado, and Potato.  If you look closely, you might even spot a cameo by Mr. Peanut.

Over the course of the novel, we follow Cupcake as he runs his bakery, attends band practice, and daydreams about one day meeting his idol, famous pastry chef Turkish Delight.  When he finds out that Eggplant's aunt is best friends with Turkish Delight, and that Eggplant is planning a trip to Turkey to go visit, AND that he is also invited to go... well! Cupcake kicks things into high gear and starts saving up for a plane ticket right then and there.  He sells dog biscuits at the dog show, marzipan animals at the Blessing of the Animals, and peppermint brownies for Valentine's Day - anything to help pay for this trip!  But when he finds out that Eggplant has been laid off and might not be able to go to Turkey after all... what's a Cupcake to do?

I picked up Bake Sale because it looked like a fun read, but imagine my excitement when I found out that 7 of Cupcake's recipes are also sprinkled in the pages!  I was tempted especially by the peppermint brownies and the sugared flowers (how cool are those?!), but in the end, I needed to make cupcakes in honor of Cupcake.  (Can you blame me?)  The recipe for the cake and the frosting is right in the back of the book - page 148 in the copy I have here.

Bake Sale Cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350.  Line two 12-cup muffin tins with muffin papers.  ("If you make mini-cupcakes," the author says, "this recipe will make 96!"  So you may want to cut the recipe in half.  No matter how many cupcakes you make, mini-cupcakes will take about 1/3 less cooking time.)
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth.  Add the sugar gradually, and beat until fluffy, around 3 minutes.  (Kat's note: make sure all the sugar is integrated before proceeding, even if it takes longer than 3 minutes.  Trust me, if you don't, then your cupcakes won't come together right and will be all gummy and gross.)
3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
4. Combine the flours in a smaller bowl and whisk together.  Add it to the butter mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla.  Beat well after each addition.
5. Spoon the batter into your muffin tins, so your cups are about 3/4 full.  (I used a measuring cup and scooped it in that way.  It was easier to handle.)
6. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched.  Mine came out perfectly after 20 minutes exactly.
7. Remove the cupcakes from the tin and let them cool completely before you frost them. 

 They came out perfectly.  Soft, barely golden brown around the edges, and smelling delicious. It was hard to let them cool, but somehow I managed.

For the frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
8 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Place butter in a large mixing bowl.  (I cut my butter into chunks first, but that may be personal preference.)
2. Add 4 cups of the sugar, all the milk, and the vanilla.
3. "Beat like crazy with electric mixer, until smooth and creamy."  (Love it!)  The author also notes that you should mix at a medium or high speed, but only after working up to it, because if you start on a high speed, the sugar will fly everywhere.
4. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until the frosting is of the desired consistency.  You may not need to use all the sugar.

I have not historically had a heck of a lot of luck making my own frosting (which is, to be fair, my own fault for usually jumping right in instead of reading all the directions first, or for having a mixer that starts blowing smoke at me when I decide to mix with it - a problem since solved), so I was hesitant... but it came out perfectly!  It's so fluffy and delicious!  Ms. Varon states that you can store any unused frosting in a covered container at room temperature for up to 3 days.  I put my extra (about 3 cupcakes' worth, and I didn't skimp on the frosting) in a tupperware in the fridge, because sometimes I just can't help but be a rebel.
I actually cut this recipe in half and made 12 cupcakes instead of 24, but they came out perfectly.  Seriously, this was the tastiest cake batter I've ever licked off a rubber spatula.  And not too shabby baked, either!  (Good enough, in fact, that my official taster and I couldn't help ourselves from each eating one, though we had just come back from eating a huge dinner.)  Also, I didn't have any cherries, but so I substituted a strawberry. 

It's lovely, don't you think?

If you like Bake Sale,  Sara Varon also has a few other books, namely Robot Dreams, Sweater Weather, Chicken and Cat, and Chicken and Cat Clean Up.  You can visit her website at 

On a personal note, I'm sorry I haven't posted recently.  If I ever go this long again, please yell at me to write more.  You can email me with good comments, bad ones, requests, recommendations, or just to say hi at, or you can follow me on Facebook and talk to me there, OR you can leave me a comment here on the blog itself!  So many options!